During the writing of “Brand Aid”, we performed research to get an idea of how c-suite executives behave. We received over 6,000 responses to our survey on buying behaviors. The biggest takeaway from this survey was the fact that 78% of the respondents indicated that they looked up sales people before meeting with them. That’s powerful information! This tells us that your reputation does in fact precede you. What people find, or don’t find, when they look you up begins to form their opinion of you long before you meet with them.
The fact that 78% of executives are looking people up may give you a sense of joy or terror, but there is further research that really shows the importance of reputation management. There are several studies on this, but the stat generally states that of the people looking you up, about 80% find something that changes their mind! This can be a huge problem or a massive opportunity.
My family and I relocated to Virginia a few years back. Once we made the decision, I began the search for a realtor; and I did what most of the population does - I started with Google. I performed a variety of searches, and visited a large number of websites. If I landed on an outdated or unresponsive site, I would immediately leave. After hours of research, I stumbled upon a very nice site. On the homepage they had a section highlighting their agents. I clicked.
I began to read about Dawn. She is about my age. She was a collegiate athlete (my wife and I were collegiate athletes). She has two kids (we have two kids). Her father was in the Navy (my Father-in-law is retired Navy). See what was happening here? We found similarities and connected with her. I ended up contacting her, found her knowledgable, and eventually hired her. We hired her because her online and offline brand were consistent.
We hired HER - not her company.
TYING IT TOGETHER
So what does this have to do with your business? Everything.
Another finding from our survey was that the individuals (read: employees) are researched first, then the company. The market today, especially Millennials, are more interested in dealing with individuals rather than big companies. The lesson? In today’s environment, it is imperative that companies highlight their employees. They must create a culture of promoting the brands of their people which will, in turn, strengthen the company brand.
It is no longer acceptable to hide your people. Your potential customers are researching long before they contact you. You can help manage the brands of your people and your company, or you can be reactive and let others form an incorrect opinion of you. The choice is yours...